Each year, more than 130, 000 households file to register their Alsatians with national kennels, and with good reason. German Shepherd Dogs (GSD) are loyal, brave, confident, and intelligent. From adorable family pets to brave protection dogs, there is nothing German Shepherds can’t do.
While there are several ways a German Shepherd can brighten up your life, it can be equally stubborn. Intelligence and self-assuredness make this dog breed hard to train.
Many believe the right way to discipline their pet is to spank, cage, hit, or use another physical punishment to mold behavior. However corporal punishment is not only ethically dubious, but it can also damage your bond with your dog.
So, how do you train your dog without resorting to traditional disciplining?
There are several ways to discipline your German Shepherd puppy without punishment, most of which simply revolve around training your puppy to realize a certain behavior is unwelcome and wrong.
This article lists 8 ways to help you train your puppy without resorting to punishment. They are:
1. Start Early and Remain Consistent
German Shepherds are intelligent, obedient, and hard-working dogs. However, timing is everything in dog training.
Since GSDs are smart dogs, you can start training them as soon as they are 7 weeks old. At this time, you should keep the training light and be limited to basic commands, crate training, and socialization.
If you start training your dog early on and with consistency, the chance of developing bad behavior is low. Similarly, the earlier you realize a behavior is unwanted, the sooner you learn not to repeat it – the same is the case with dogs.
German Shepherd puppies are smart, but you cannot ensure efficient dog training without consistency. To train your dog to unlearn the bad behavior, you must remain gentle, firm, and consistent.
Whatever behavior is unwanted should always remain unwanted. And your behavior with your puppy should reflect that. However, remember to always stay gentle and kind. Spanking or denying food is unacceptable and may even worsen the situation.
Consistency also prevents your puppy from confusion. For example, when teaching your puppy that breaking things is unwanted behavior, ensure that your reaction and the corrective action remain the same whether the dog breaks an expensive vase or a cheap ashtray.
If you have a different reaction each time, your puppy is going to get confused; he won’t know which command to follow.
2. Try Reward-Based Training
Often known as “positive reinforcement training,” Reward-based training involves getting your German Shepherd to perform the desired behaviors by rewarding those behaviors. For example, if you are teaching your dog to stop barking at visitors, reward them with their favorite treat when they display this behavior.
Every time the GSD barks at a house visitor, it won’t get a treat. However, when it doesn’t bark at visitors, it will get a treat.
German Shepherd puppies are quick learners. When they realize a behavior is appreciated, they are likely to repeat it. Training with rewards is not only fun but also helps you build a strong bond with your canine.
However, some trainers are against reward-based training as it makes the dog’s behavior dependent on the reward. The dog learns that he should not bark at people because he will get a treat instead of learning that he should not bark at people because it’s bad behavior.
Consequently, the dog may not perform the desired behavior in the absence of the treat. Therefore, as your dog’s trainer, you must be smart when using reward-based training. Consult with professionals, watch online tutorials, read authentic research, before including
3. Use Time-Outs
You can also choose the time-out technique strategically to discipline your dog. When your puppy performs an unacceptable behavior, remove them from the scene of the crime and put them in an isolated environment.
In isolation, the dog is away from his owner, toys, and all things fun. In time-out, the dog cannot interact with anyone and doesn’t get attention, making it boring and unwanted.
Therefore, time-out is effective in teaching dogs that certain behaviors will result in isolation, an environment that they don’t enjoy. Although controversial, it effectively modifies problematic behavior.
The correct use of time-out involves responding quickly and consistently to unacceptable behavior. Make sure this technique isn’t used along with:
Calm your puppy down gently, and ensure they are not afraid or startled before implementing a time-out. Moreover, it’s not recommended to use punishments for a prolonged duration. Time out should not last for more than 3 minutes or until your puppy has calmed down.
Once you’ve made your point, it is okay to pet them to show the behavior is done and dusted.
4. Your Body Language & Tone Matters
Remember that your dog can not speak or understand what you’re trying to explain to him. What they can and do understand are your tone and body language, and that is how they choose to communicate with you.
So, when you’re trying to teach your puppy to follow your commands, use a direct tone and ensure your body language imitates what you’re trying to say to them.
However, don’t lean over them or speak too loudly by using a harsh tone. This can cause your puppy to fear you and get anxious. For example, if your puppy is chewing a household item, stand up and say “leave it” articulately to help them understand your meaning.
However, do not scream or yell. Secondly, give them something else that’s more appropriate for them to chew on—for example, their favorite chew toy.
In this way, your puppy will learn that chewing, which is a natural urge for dogs, is not bad; chewing household items is.
5. Ignore Unwanted Behavior
Ignoring unwanted behavior works like a charm for some problematic behaviors—for example, incessant barking.
Nonstop barking can truly be nerve-wracking, and if your puppy refuses to listen, it might be time to start ignoring them when they bark too much. This means you refuse to give them any attention when they are barking.
You must even avoid telling them to keep quiet. If you do, they’ll know if they bark for long enough, they will grab your attention. German Shepherd puppies are sharp dogs. So, to prevent them from barking for even longer next time, pretend like nothing is happening.
Don’t look, touch, or speak to them. Eventually, they will stop barking needlessly altogether.
However, before using this technique, figure out what exactly it is that is making them bark and remove the certain object or place them in a different environment that is preferably quieter.
For example, barking too much during playtime can simply be due to overexcitement. In this case, give them a chew time or make your playtimes shorter to give them some rest.
6. Help Puppies Burn Pent-up Energy
Is your puppy nipping you or chewing important items around the house? German Shepherd puppies are energic and can sometimes display their pent-up energy in strange ways.
Repeated problematic behavior can be a sign that your dog is not getting enough exercise, playtime, or mental stimulation. So, ensure your puppies get plenty of playtime, exercise, or even a chew toy.
If your puppy continues nipping at you, don’t jerk your hand immediately to swat them away or punish your Shepherd. They can assume your sudden jerking as part of a game and continue nipping whenever they want to play.
To stop your puppy from nipping or chewing, try:
- Moving your hand away slowly from your puppy
- Give them something else to chew on, like their chew toy
- Ensure they have plenty of physical and mental stimulation throughout the day
7. Avoid Physical Punishment and Harm
Physically harming or punishing your puppy is unethical as it can cause physical and psychological injury. Dogs that are disciplined through physical punishment may develop anxiety and depression.
Studies have also revealed that the use of violence or physical punishment during dog training can increase aggression in dogs. And even worse, your German Shepherd may turn on you and try to bite you to protect themselves from getting hurt.
Training or disciplining your puppy should never be about intimidating them or using force. It should simply be you trying techniques and making them understand what you require of them by staying consistent.
Even if training your puppy is overwhelming, remember to stay patient. If you are overcome with frustration, take a short break. Calm yourself down, and then resume training.
Remember, no physical punishment should be the number 1 rule during dog training. There is no scenario in which it is acceptable to hit your dog, it is abuse, and you shouldn’t resort to it.
8. Be Patient
Have you been trying to train your German Shepherd puppy for a while and not getting the desired results?
Remember that while German Shepherd puppies are undoubtedly intelligent, they can be equally stubborn. So, while the process may be time taking and overwhelming, patience is a virtue.
To make a German Shepherd puppy’s training more effective, ensure you stay consistent and patient. You should not confuse your puppy by changing the rules too often. However, if your puppy refuses to cooperate on some days, remember that it is completely okay to take a break for a day or two.
Your puppy would rather take a day off to see you more calm and relaxed rather than angry or stressed during training.
9. Rule Out Health Issues
if you are training a puppy who simply refuses to listen or learn, don’t rule out a health problem. For example, peeing or defecating around the house even after potty training is over can be a sign of a bladder or bowel problem.
Moreover, continuing to bite or chew after teething is over can signal dental problems. So, make sure to get your German Shepherd puppy checked out by a licensed vet.
Final Thoughts on How to Discipline Your German Shepherd Puppies Without Punishment
While training can be time-confusing and exhausting, it’s important to remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Patience, consistency, and the use of strategic training techniques can help you mold your dog’s behavior.
Most importantly, learn to accept if you are not cut out for training. Some people simply don’t have the temperament for training.
Therefore, if training is too stressful or overwhelming for you, you can consider hiring a professional dog trainer to do It for you. To find a professional dog trainer, simply search ”German Shepherd dog training near me” on your search engine and get multiple options for the best trainers in your area.
You can also ask your vet for a reference. Moreover, you can ask your friends and family for a recommendation.
We wish you the best of luck in training your German Shepherd puppies!